This is a fabulous flat-bread from well, Asia. Yes, darned near all of Asia. I’ve had pretty narrow variations all the way from Bhrain to Japan, though most Americans will recognize this as a common Indian bread course. This recipe in particular is derived from a tiny little DC Indian restaurant Keely brought me to about a year ago. The green pesto was the really unusual bit and the hardest to figure out, though I think I am pretty close. Its a standard leavened bread but cooked in an unusual way. Ideally, it would be stuck to the sides of a round brick oven called a tandoor, but you can make a pretty good approximation with clay tiles.
If you haven’t already gotten tiles or a pizza stone, go to a home improvement store. The flooring department should stock a product called unglazed quarry tile. It will cost on the order of 97cents a square foot and last longer than your stove, it will work miracles on all of your baked goods, especially pizza and other flatbreads like this one. I used four of em though my oven can fit six on a good day.
Anyway, start by proofing 1 pkg dry yeast (2.25 tsp) in 1 cup warm water cooler than 170F(any hotter genocides your yeast). Once it froths up, add 1/4 cup sugar, tbsp kosher salt, 3tbsp milk. Mix in enough bread flour to make a wet dough(4 cups-ish) and beat in one large egg. Knead six to eight minutes until you can poke the dough and it comes back. The kitchen-aid is nice for this step, but you can do it by hand as well. Oil it, cover it, and let it rise for an hour while you work on the aromatics.
This part starts with garlic, lots of garlic, two full heads of garlic. And two bushels of Italian flat-leaf parsley
Break out the cloves and smack them with the sides of your knife to peel them. If you place your chef’s knife on the garlic with the blade angled slightly down, you can just tap it with your opposite palm and the garlic will disrobe faster than a spring breaker with a jagar bomb. Just please be careful. In college, I was unlucky enough to watch a young man embedded an eight-inch chef’s knife in his palm in a similar maneuver trying to force the wrong side of a knife through some tough root vegetables. That being said, I’ve never known anyone to get hurt peeling garlic in this way, just keep a healthy respect for your blade, especially when your squishy parts are hurtling towards it.
Give it a rough chop and set aside in a bowl. Toss with about a tbsp of olive oil to prevent oxidation. Next, grab a healthy bushel of parsley or cilantro. I’m pretty sure the recipe I’m hunting for was cilantro, but the old lady has an aversion to it, so I try to steer clear. I used an Italian flat-leaf so it would integrate better with the bread.
Remove most of the stems and give them a rough chop. Stir in with the garlic and set aside. Take the other bushel, once again remove most of the stems but don’t worry about pulling the leaves off the stalk. Shove them in the blender with 2 tsp salt, 2tbsp olive oil, and 2 tsp of your garlic mix. Pulse and mash it down until the mix is pretty well pureed. You may need to add olive oil to work it all together. Add more of your garlic mix to taste. It should be pretty darned tasty but kinda hollow, starting with the fruitiness of the olive oil and finishing with a grassy herby parsley piqued with some garlic and a flavor void in the middle. Don’t worry, ziplock it and set it in the fridge while we round out the naan, it will mingle. The oil needs to pull out the fat-soluble components of both like an infusion on methamphetamine(you know cause of the blender and the small particles… it goes crazy fast) and it makes for one heck of a sauce.
Kill some time until the first rise is over, dump your garlic-herb mix into the dough and knead it. Again, the kitchen-aid with a dough hook comes in handy.
Its like a tornado of flavor. Once again, oil it a bit more, cover it and let the yeasties work their magic. Kill about fifteen minutes then cut the stove to 400F with a couple quarry tiles laid out on one of the racks. It does technically work on multiple racks at once, but they cook so fast it’s not worth bothering with. Again, kill about half an hour then break off chunks slightly larger than a golf-ball. Flour your hands and board enough to spread them to about an eighth of an inch thick, then let them rest for a few minutes.
When the oven is good and hot, stretch the dough one final time until it is almost transparent and stick it straight on the stones. Now wait anywhere from three to nine minutes. No really. There are a lot of variables here, moistness of your dough, thickness of your naan, relative humidity, altitude, oven calibration and the tiny fire gnomes that live in the burners. You’ll get a feel for it eventually. To start with, you want to look for any browning, either from the oven or up through from the stones. If you see brown on top, you’re prolly done.
Those tiles have served me well for about seven years now.